Born: April 17, 1954
Town: Neptune, New Jersey
Dennis Martin Walling was born September 17, 1954 in Neptune. The Wallings moved 20 minutes west when Denny was growing up and he ended up attending the public high school in Howell. He starred for the Rebels during four varsity seasons. He had a smooth left-handed stroke, a sharp batting eye and was athletic enough to play any position on the field.
Attended Brookdale College and showed enough on the diamond to earn a scholarship to Clemson. He played the outfield for the Tigers and was the best of a solid core of ballplayers that included Steve Cline, Chuck Porter, Craig White, Richard Haynes, Smiley Sanders and Kurt Seibert. Denny flourished with the Tigers, earning First-Team All-America honors in 1975 and being named ACC Player of the Year. That season he won the conference Triple Crown with 13 homers, 60 RBIs and a .421 average.
The Cardinals drafted Denny after his junior year in 1974, but he chose to stay in school. One year later the Oakland A’s drafted him and he signed. It didn’t take long for Denny to reach the majors. The A’s called him up for the September stretch run and he got one hit in eight at bats. The A’s traded Denny to the Houston Astros in 1977, and it was in Houston that he finally stuck as a major leaguer. He served as a platoon outfielder against right-handed pitching and a pinch-hitter. Denny also was a quality fill-in at the corner infield positions.
Denny’s best season with the Astros was 1986, when he batted .312 with 13 homers and 58 RBIs. He hit the game-winning homer in Mike Scott’s September no-hitter that clinched the NL West for Houston that year. Denny finished his career with the Cardinals and Rangers, and then returned to the Astros for three games in 1992. In all, Denny wore a major-league uniform for 18 seasons. He left the game as Houston all-time record holder for pinch hits.
In 1996, Denny was hired by his old teammate, Art Howe, to join his coaching staff with the Oakland A’s. Howe had also managed Denny in winter ball. Denny served in that role for three seasons. He then did some scouting work for the Orioles—a job nearer his home in Virginia. Denny served as Howe’s hitting coach again, with the Mets, when Howe was hired by New York in 2003. In 2007, Denny was hired by the Orioles as a roving instructor.